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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

04 June 2012
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

New South Wales

Numbers increase

Yardings were up 11 per cent at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. The main contributors to the states increase was Goulburn up 64 per cent Dubbo up 39 per cent and a 33 per cent increase at both Gunnedah and Casino. Scone remained relatively firm as well as Forbes, Singleton and Wagga. Throughput fell at Tamworth by 16 per cent mainly contributed by over 25mm of rain across parts of the supply area. Armidale also fell 13 per cent with cow’s supply back slightly on previous weeks. Young cattle dominated the market with 66 per cent accounted for in total stock yarded.

The general trend across all markets was the lack of good quality cattle. There were good numbers of young cattle at Gunnedah however well finished cattle were scarce. Casino’s medium weight vealers were in good supply with quality improving. Singleton had a good supply of vealers suitable for butchers. Wagga had little prime cattle with quality vealers and yearlings present. Dubbo yarded quality young Bos Indicus cattle with a good number of grown steers and cows presented while CLTX had a mix of grown steers and cows which were sought after by usual buyers. Scone produced mostly vealers which benefited the restockers along with a small contingent of yearlings.

Regular buyers were in attendance at most markets.. Tamworth lacked restocker competition with feeders scarce in Wagga. This could be attributed to the reduction of quality offered across all categories. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator fell -1.25¢ for the week to finish on 365.25¢/kg.

Price eases with mixed quality

Medium vealer steers were predominately sold to restockers from 170¢ to 238¢ to average 210¢ back 3¢/kg. Restockers also secured the majority of heavy vealer steers ranging from 175¢ to top at 219¢/kg. Processors purchased the bulk of medium vealer heifers, to top at 210¢ while averaging 190¢/kg. Light yearling steers averaged 200¢ with a top of 233¢, while medium yearling steers averaged 192¢ reaching a top of 213¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers were purchased primarily by feeders ranging from 160¢ to 200¢/kg. Medium weight C2 heifers and heavy C3 heifers predominately sold to feeders with C2 heifers selling from 160¢ to 200¢/kg and C3 heifers ranging from 149¢ to 178¢ up 2¢/kg.

Medium grown steers topped 195¢ to average 181¢/kg although remained relatively firm to 10¢/kg cheaper. Light grown heifers slipped slightly to average 167¢/kg. The medium weight cows offered were firm with a top of 139¢ to average 125¢/kg and heavy D4 cows were down 1¢ to average 132¢/kg.

Queensland

Large fall in supply

Light but widespread rain across the supply area reduced numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 55 per cent. The Roma store and prime sales experienced the largest supply decline while in the south-east corner of the state at Warwick supply remained very close to the previous weeks level.

Young cattle dominated the selling pens and overall across all markets representing 75 per cent of total cattle penned. Quality also slipped in the reduced number of heavy steers and bullocks with a few more 3 score categories penned. The cow section also contained some fair samples in the lower fat score rangers.

Buyer representation was generally good however at the Roma store sale a notably fewer restocker buyers were in attendance. The large panel of export buyers at most markets included all the major export processors. Prices for young lightweight cattle to restockers generally remained fairly strong however buyers were selective and this affected average prices in places. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed across all markets experienced very little change in price. However at Warwick some small samples of better quality medium weights improved 10¢ to12¢, and at Dalby a large sample of heavyweights averaged 3¢/kg better.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced a dearer trend with improvements of 1¢ to 4¢/kg, while those not meeting exact market specifications were cheaper. Light and medium weight plain condition cows experienced no change in price being pushed on by stronger restockers support. Good heavy cows lost ground in value at mid and late week sales to average 2¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steers dearer

A large number of calves returned to the paddock at 204¢ with sales to 239.2¢/kg. The largest samples of vealer steers were also purchased by restockers and averaged 217¢ with the occasional B muscle category with show ring potential making to 240¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter remained firm at 193¢ with some to local butchers at 216.2¢/kg. Medium weight C2 and C3 yearling steers to feed averaged 195c with isolated sales to 221.2¢ while a large sample of D muscle classes sold in the 180¢/kg range. A fair sample of heavy weights to feed averaged close to 190¢ with sales to 205¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 188¢ and medium weights 182¢ with sales to 194.2¢/kg. A small selection of medium weights to the trade averaged 184¢ with B muscle lines to 222.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 4¢ better at 175¢, while the bullock portion averaged 1¢ dearer at 173¢ with a few pens to 180.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 116¢ and 3 scores 128¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 146.6¢ in pen lots while most were 2¢ cheaper at 139¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers increase

While there have been some widespread welcome rainfall over the past few days, overall quality has remained very mixed, with limited numbers of prime cattle yarded.

The SA LE’s increased numbers sold to soft competition from the usual local and interstate trade and export buyers. There was also a lack of feeder and restocker activity. Limited numbers of vealers sold at much dearer levels. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to feeder activity were unchanged; with the C3 sales much cheaper. Trade and processor purchases of yearling steers tended to lose ground, while the heifer portion was generally dearer on feeder and trade purchases. Limited numbers of grown steers and cows were cheaper.

Naracoorte’s similar numbered yarding contained very mixed quality runs that sold to steady trade and export competition from the usual buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were quite active on young cattle, plain quality cows and lightweight bulls. A large number of lightweight calves to mainly restocker activity sold from $255 to $320/head. Limited numbers of vealers were generally dearer to the trade, albeit with feeders and restockers sourcing the greatest percentage. Cows met with fluctuating competition, with the first couple of runs being cheaper while the good quality in the later runs lifted prices to dearer levels due to a Warrnambool operator being a strong buyer. Restockers also sourced plain quality D1 cows up to 132¢/kg.

Mt. Gambier’s increased yarding contained very mixed quality runs of young cattle and grown steers, while most cows were in prime condition as the yarding sold to limited trade and export competition.

Fluctuating Prices

The varying quality led to erratic competition from the usual buyers that tended to lead to fluctuating prices being paid.

Limited trade purchases of vealer steers were from 180¢ to 238¢, with C3 sales 3¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced the majority from 175¢ to 205¢/kg at generally lower levels. Vealer heifers in small numbers to the trade sold between 185¢ and 257¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders sourced the majority from 150¢ to 182¢, with D2 lightweight sales 18¢ dearer and the balance generally cheaper. Yearling steer C3 sales to the trade sold between 170¢ and 220¢ to be 6¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases of C1 and C2 steers were from 158¢ to 210¢ or 8¢/kg less. Yearling heifer C3 sales were from 160¢ to 203¢ at prices unchanged to 5¢/kg dearer for the heavyweights. Small numbers of grown steers sold generally from 170¢ to 191¢ to be unchanged to 3¢ dearer, and averaging 330¢/kg cwt. D3 to C5 beef cows sold from 110¢ to 138¢, to be 2¢ to 4¢ cheaper and generally 230¢ to 275¢/kg cwt price range.

Victoria

Throughput down

Throughput across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards was lower with the majority of markets throughout the state recording a decrease. Bairnsdale declined 19 per cent with limited numbers of young cattle offered, however grown cattle were in good supply. Ballarat small yarding was down 36 per cent with heifers dominating the categories. Numbers continued to reduce at Camperdown which was back 30 per cent with cows in good supply particularly the dairy varieties. Colac also reduced and cows again dominated the yarding however grown steers and heifers were in good supply. Supply was back significantly at Leongatha with 28 per cent less yarded week on week. Limited vealers and yearlings at Warrnambool resulted in throughput decreasing by 29 per cent with 640 head yarded. Numbers almost halved at Wodonga grown cattle sale while supply only fell slightly at the young cattle yarding. Shepparton and Pakenham were the only centres in the state to increase with 24 per cent and 2 per cent more cattle respectively.

Declining numbers brought about a decline in quality with most markets recording a noticeable drop. There was a plainer selection of vealers and yearlings throughout with the exception of Camperdown and Wodonga yarding some well-conditioned supplementary fed yearlings. There were ample pens of grown steers and bullocks of good quality. The D1 and D2 dairy cows dominated and quality was overall mixed. Heavy weight bulls were in good supply. Across the state all the regular buyers were in attendance at the majority of markets however a few export buyers were absent. Restockers and feeders were not as active as winter is now underway.

Price trends mixed

Prices were dependent on quality with the variability influencing trends. Medium weight C2 vealer steers to the trade were 8¢ higher averaging 204¢/kg. The heavy weight C3 vealer steers were 3¢ lower on 207¢ and the B2’s averaged 223¢/kg. Medium weight C3 heifers were 7¢ up on 203¢ and the heavy weights ranged from 170¢ to 231¢ to 198¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to restocker were 1¢ higher on 186¢ while those to feed made 191¢/kg. Heavy weight C3 yearling steers to the trade were 3¢ lower on 193¢/kg. Yearling heifer attracted slightly stronger competition from trade buyers with the heavyweights 5¢ higher on 186¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were generally higher with the C3 heavyweights and bullocks averaging 191¢/kg. The C4 portion of the bullocks were unchanged on 184¢/kg. Heavy C4 grown heifers were 2¢ lower on 169¢/kg. Medium weight D1 dairy cows were 2¢ higher on 113¢/kg. Beef cows were 5¢ higher on 132¢ for the medium weights and 138¢ for the heavy weights. C2 heavyweight bulls made between 140¢ and 179¢ to average 164¢/kg. The C3 bulls reached a top of 165¢ to average 157¢, 7¢/kg higher.

West Australia

Good rainfall on south coast

The dry conditions continued for much of this week and were only broken by a front that crossed the south coast in latter days. Falls were basically confined to areas south of Perth and then defined basically to coastal areas where there were some very good recordings. The dry conditions seen over the past three weeks have taken their toll on pasture growth and volumes and those that got rain received it just in time to save germinations. Unfortunately the rainfall failed to penetrate too far to the east and this will have an affect on cropping programmes and carrying capacity. Forecasters have again reiterated that they expect below average rainfall for the southern Agricultural districts this year and thus far it would appear to be the case.

Conditions in the north remain reasonable with mustering activity now at high levels. This has seen solid supplies of pastoral cattle forwarded south, both on a direct to works basis and into Muchea’s saleyard where these cattle again dominated that sale this week. It was the only larger yarding of the three weekly sales this week with the Great Southern and southwest sale both lower. Agents have predicted that numbers should tighten from traditional local cattle breeding areas following on from a solid rainfall event. The numbers of heavy steers, heifers and trade weight yearlings all remained relatively limited again this week. Cow volumes remained solid, while the supplies of young yearling store grades, although lower than the previous week again accounted for a healthy percentage of total saleyard numbers.

Cow market eases slightly

There were only very limited supplies of new season vealers this week in physical markets with local drafts restricted to calf weights. Demand from restockers and local retailers remained firm on these, while an increase in the numbers of lightweight pastoral heifers struggled for demand from the restocker sector.

The smaller supplies in physical markets this week of trade weight yearling steers and heifers were all grass finished with no grain assisted drafts penned. The tighter supplies encouraged an improved demand from the local trade with both sexes enjoying improved prices, while heavy weights enjoyed another solid feeder demand.

Demand from feeders and restockers in all grades of local store yearling remained very buoyant with price levels firm to slightly dearer than what was seen the previous week. The majority of heavy weight steers and bullocks were sourced from pastoral regions and these recorded slightly dearer price levels to the processing sector. Local cow quality and weight remained fair and similar, while pastoral drafts saw a more mixed and generally lower weight recorded. Trade demand started the week at slightly lower levels but this did recover later in week with prime prices only slighter cheaper.

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